And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14 (KJV)
In the Book of Exodus, we read that when God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt and free the Israelites, Moses asked Him: “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” [And] God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14 NIV)
Can you imagine how frustrated Moses must have felt? How would he explain when the people ask, “Who sent you?”
“I AM,” Moses answers.
“You are what?” the people respond.
“I am Moses,” he says, “And I AM sent me.”
It sounds like that old Abbot and Costello skit “Who’s on First?” doesn’t it? Still, as confusing as it might sound, God chose to describe Himself simply as I AM. But why?
Bible scholars have offered vast and complicated answers, but I think the clearest explanation lies in very basic grammar — the adjective — a word that describes or modifies a person or thing in a sentence.
In kindergarten, children learn simple comparative adjectives like big, bigger, biggest. The last is called a superlative adjective. A superlative adjective expresses the extreme or highest degree of a quality.
So what does this have to do with God calling Himself I AM? The answer is that God is beyond any description or modification offered by even a superlative adjective. He is bigger than biggest, greater than greatest, mightier than mightiest. There are no words, nor will there ever be, adequate enough to describe our God.
God, our Father, the Great I AM. Simply indescribable.